Psychotherapy relies on traditional wisdom that the past matters and that talking can make people feel better, surprisingly even when, for good reasons, they resist it. There is a wish to talk and a hunger for a good listener. There is a desire to make time for doing those things and for something good to come of them. Depending on how it was in your family, you may be comfortable talking about your troubles, or alternatively be more prone to have that “walking on eggs” apprehensiveness around touchy topics or some mistrust of your own thoughts and feelings. In either case, if you have found the courage to talk with a family member or someone in your church, a friend, or have read the self-help books without finding relief from what is troubling you, some other kind of talking might help when you are working out how to live and who you can be.
Psychoanalytic psychotherapy is based on the belief that there is more going on in our minds than we are aware of. Consequently, our relationships can be complicated by the unconscious meanings of those yearnings, dreams, anxieties and past experiences that accompany us through life, disconnected from our awareness. They account for why we can be troubled but not know what is the matter. They also trap us in feeling it is too risky to change, given the way the world is; it is safer to get out of relationships than into them. Treatment works through the gradual process of discovering connections between current behaviour and its historical origins, growing emotional awareness, and tolerating unknowing with the therapist. Gradually, you may come to experience the world differently and reduce the confusion between what helps and habits of feeling and not feeling, thinking and not thinking which maintain suffering.
Psychotherapy involves meeting once or twice a week in an open-ended time frame; it may be short, long, or in-between.